Chief Of Defence Staff

Reading time: 6-8 minutes.

On the 24th of December, 2019, the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi,  gave approval for the creation of a new post, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) in the rank of a four-star General equal to a Service Chief and charter of their duties. The main purpose for creating this post is to set up better coordination between the three services.

The Chief of Defence Staff will be acting as the Principal Military advisor to the Ministry of Defence on all the tri-service (Indian army, Indian Navy and Indian Air force) matters. Initially, this post was proposed by the Kargil Review Committee in 1999 and after that on multiple instances, the demand for this post had been raised by several veterans and experts. The CDS will offer impartial advice to the political leadership and will not exercise any other military command.

Role of this post

The Chief of Defence Staff will be first amongst all the service chiefs. Nevertheless, the CDS will be in a higher position in the list of protocol than other service chiefs.

The CDS will play the following roles:

  1. Advisory role: The Chief of Defence Staff will act as a primary advisor of Military to the Raksha Mantris. He will play a vital role in advising the tri-services.
  2. Administrative role: The tri-services organizations and those related to Cyber and Space will be administered by the Chief of Defence Staff and they will be under his command, but he cannot administer the effective functioning of the military activities.
  3. Military role: The Chief of Defence Staff may not exercise any military command, he cannot exercise his command over the tri-service chiefs. The tri-service chiefs exercise their military command over their respective duly notified services. They have the predominant role in the functioning of their specific tri-service organization.
  4. Other roles:

The CDS will:-

  • be a member of Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) and Defence Planning Committee (DPC);
  • intensify the share of indigenous machinery;
  • assess plans for out of area contingencies and other contingencies;
  • provide consolidated inputs to the relevant authorities and will warrant optimum utilization of the available infrastructure;
  • accomplish cooperation amongst the three services regarding their operations, repairs, maintenance, support services, logistics, training, communications, transport, etc.;
  • amalgamate and justify International cooperation plans,
  • strategize the military papers to consider the competent authority.

Why is it being created?

The new post, Chief of Defence staff is mainly created to bring about a better coordination among the tri-service organizations. This post is created to assure ‘jointmanship’ amongst the Indian Army, Indian Navy and Indian Air force. The primary aim is to institute unity among the Armed forces of Indian in training, staffing, procurement and operations.

The CDS will also be acting as a single point adviser of military to the Ministry. The CDS is appointed to augment the quality the military advice that is given through consolidation of service inputs to the political leadership and to ensure development in defence matters and military affairs.

The CDS will thus act as a defender of the modernization of Indian Armed force.

Ranks in the army

The Chief of Defence Staff has the rank of the principal military advisor to the Ministry of Defence, the CDS is the four star general. The CDS will be the secretary of the Implementing committee and will be the primary advisor to the newly created Department of the Military Affairs (DMA).

The CDS will acquire the same rank as the three service chiefs acquire, they are also four-star officers. The Chief of Defence Staff will be first amongst the equals and be ahead in protocol as a four star officer.

The Chief Defence will exercise military command over the newly formed agencies for Cyber and Space warfare. The tri-service organizations will be commanded over by their respective chiefs in service. 

How will the CDS be appointed?

The appointment of the Chief of Defence Staff has not yet been notified. However, the first Chief of Defence Staff has been appointed on the 30th of December, 2019, by the President of India on the recommendation of the Cabinet of India. The Cabinet of India will nominate a person for the post of Chief of Defence Staff on the basis of his service to the country and such person shall be then appointed with the consent of the President of India.

First Chief of Defence Staff

The first appointee of the post of Chief of Defence Staff is Army Chief General Bipin Rawat. He was appointed as the first Indian CDS on the 30th of December, 2019. He was retiring on the 31st of December, 2019, but now he will serve for 3 years as the Chief of Defence Staff.

The tenure has been extended for 3 years as Rawat turns 62 years old in March, 2020, through amended rules of armed force which state that the tenure of the CDS is 3 years from the date of appointment or 62 years, whichever is earlier.

His position with respect to three other generals

The Chief of Defence Staff is not only the head of the Department of Military Affairs but also is the Permanent Chairman of the Staff Committee Chiefs. He acts as the principal military adviser to the Ministry of Defence on all the matters about tri-services. The three chiefs of the tri-services recommend the Ministry on their specific services. The CDS may not exercise any military command over the three services.


This post was created by the Union Cabinet to make the military power of the nation to work in unison and make developments to the existing military operations. It was brought in to promote more efficiency and effectiveness in the operation of the military powers.

The Prime Minister during his Independence day’s speech while introducing this post addressed the nation saying that our nation should not have a fragmented military approach, there must be unity and coordination among the three services and that they must work with the same pace simultaneously which must be pertinent to the hope of people.

This system was created to bring an effective leadership to the armed force who can make decisions that are in line with the changing environment of security and war with the world.

Author: Dhanya G from SASTRA Deemed University, Thanjavur.

Editor: Farsana Sadiq from Faculty of Law, Jamia Millia Islamia.

Analysis: Arms Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019

Reading time: 6-8 minutes.

The Arms Act, 1959 regulates the acquisition and ownership of guns in India with the issuance of gun licenses. The Act also covers manufacture, sale, import and export of arms and ammunition. The Arms (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was recently passed by the Rajya Sabha on December 10, 2019.

It introduces new category of offences, changes the possession and license provisions mentioned in the 1959 Act and enhances punishment for certain offences.

Gun violence is a contemporary human rights issue and thereby, the Bill has been introduced to control the illegal misuse of weapons in the country and to ensure the safety of human life. 

Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy said that “It is for national security that we have gotten this enactment. Unlawful assembling of arms is going on in certain spots like the little scale industry. We are proposing stringent disciplines for individuals engaged with such acts.” 

Measures to reduce deaths induced by celebratory fires:

The government had previously introduced the Arms (Second Amendment) Rules, 2018, keeping in mind the misuse of guns and celebratory firing. Under this amendment, the names of all arms license holders – new or old – was to be included in a national database and a unique identification number (UIN) was developed. This was done to ensure that unregistered owners will lose their license.

The Amendment Bill of 2019, introduces a new provision for the celebratory gunfire. Individuals who use firearms in public gatherings such as religious places, parties, and other celebrations can be jailed for up to two years or fine up to one lakh rupees or both.

There have been several instances in the past year itself, wherein people have lost their lives by accidentally getting shot due to the age-old tradition or style symbol of firing a gun during weddings and New Year’s Eve. This has always endangered the personal safety of others and thus, the new stringent provision regarding celebratory fires can prove to be a boon for the protection of the society as a whole. 

Amendment of Section 27(3) of the Arms Act, 1959

The constitutionality of the punishment mentioned under Section 27(3) was challenged in the Supreme Court in the case of State of Punjab v. Dalbir Singh. The section stated that any contravention of Section 7 of the Act, i.e, the manufacture, sale, and use of prohibited arms and ammunition, resulting in the death of any person shall be punishable with death.

The Supreme Court held the provision to be ‘widely-worded’ and observed that a law that imposes an irreversible penalty such as death is ‘repugnant to the concept of right and reason’. The Amendment Bill of 2019 has now revised the existing punishment of death to death or life imprisonment, with fine.  

The Bill, likewise revises Section 25 (1AA) of the Arms Act and proposes punishment of at least 14 years and mostly life sentence for the individuals who snatch or loot arms. Under the 1959 Act, the offence welcomes the invitation for imprisonment of not less than seven years and mostly up to 14 years.

Other salient features of the bill:

  • It is obligatory under the Act to obtain a license to acquire, possess, or carry any firearm. The failure to obtain license in such cases were used to be punished with imprisonment between five and ten years, along with fine. The Bill increases the punishment to imprisonment between seven and 14 years, along with fine. 
  • The Bill has also, increased the duration of the validity of a firearm license from three years to five years.  
  • The Act prohibits manufacture, sale, use, transfer, conversion, testing or proofing of firearms, obtaining un-licensed firearms, and the conversion of one category of firearms into another without a license. The punishment for these offences along with the import and export of banned firearms has been increased by the Bill from between three years and seven years, along with a fine to between seven years and life imprisonment, along with a fine.
  • The dealing in prohibited firearms (including their manufacture, sale and repair) without a license, is punishable with imprisonment between seven years and life imprisonment, along with fine. The Bill has increased the minimum punishment from seven years to 10 years. These prohibited weapons, specifically the probated weapons are being brought in from China and Thailand to north-eastern Indian regions.
  • The Bill enables sportspersons, in need of firearms and ammunition for practice or for tournaments or members of rifle clubs to use any firearm for target practice instead of only .22 bore rifles or air rifles.
  • Section 3 of The Act has now been amended, which has reduced the number of permitted firearms an individual can carry from three to one. As per the Bill, those who own excess firearms will have to deposit them within one year to the authorities or nearby police station or a licensed firearm dealer or a unit armoury (in case of a member of the armed forces) for de-licensing.
  • The Bill introduces new categories of offences: (1) the forceful taking away of a firearm from police or armed forces has been proposed with an imprisonment between 10 years and life imprisonment, along with a fine, (2) the celebratory gunfire punishment as already discussed above.
  • The Bill also defines offences committed by organised crime syndicates (two or more persons committing organised crime) and illicit trafficking (includes illegal trade, acquisition and sale). The possession of firearms or ammunition by a member of a syndicate and illicit trafficking shall be punishable with imprisonment between 10 years and life imprisonment, along with a fine.

According to an estimate, India has a total of around 35 lakh gun licences. Thirteen lakh people have licences to carry weapons in Uttar Pradesh, along with the Jammu-Kashmir, where 3.9 lakh people possess arms licences, most of which were issued for self-defence and personal security. Punjab has around 3.6 lakh active gun licences, most of which were issued during the two decades (1980s and 1990s) of strife.

The Bill provides a provision enabling the Central Government to make rules to track firearms from the manufacturer to the purchaser to detect, investigate, and analyse illicit manufacturing and trafficking.

In several areas of Bihar, UP and Punjab, it is very easy for people to go and buy illicit, smuggled weapons without obtaining a license. The Bill thus, seeks to limit and completely put an end to such purchases, endangering human life so as to ensure that firearms aren’t used in a rash and negligent manner.

The Bill when proposed, received the dissent of several ministers concerning certain provisions but it was passed in both the houses without any changes. The Punjab CM stated that crimes using licensed weapons are very less and thus, the limitation to carry only one firearm must not be compulsorily imposed.

Another conflict which arose during such proposal was that the farmers require more than one firearm for security reasons. The President has recently given his assent to the Bill and thus, it has now become an Act.

Author: Shashank Khati from Symbiosis Law School, Pune.

Editor: Farsana Sadiq from Faculty of Law, Jamia Millia Islamia.

Analysis: Army’s code of conduct

Reading time: 6-8 minutes.

The former Adjutant General Lt-General Ashwani Kumar, who retired recently divulged the army’s plan of coming up with a code of conduct for the retired officers of the army. The Adjutant General’s duty includes maintaining discipline in the force and to take care of issues like pension, medical facilities, and welfare measures.

Under the new proposed code, all the serving officers are to sign an undertaking to follow the code of conduct after retirement. Whether the violation of such a code of conduct invites punishment or not is yet to be confirmed but the army sources have claimed that it would not have any punitive measures attached to it.

The situation as of now is that only the officers serving in the army are governed under the Army Act. After retirement, all the officers are then governed under the normal laws of the land and not under the Army Act.

Background of the development:

This has been done keeping in view the past actions of some of the retired officers, as they often have been critical about a number of issues that include: but are not limited to the withdrawing income tax exemption on disability pension, opening up of cantonment roads for civilian public and the ‘One Rank One Pension’ (OROP).

Since the public outcry regarding such issues by the retired servicemen has repeatedly put the army in a disconcerting position. As a justification for this proposed code, some sources have said that the need for this was felt after the regular cases of the retired army servicemen making critical and disgraceful comments on social media about the Army, thereby putting the Army in an uncomfortable situation.

They have also claimed that at the current stage the views of the currently serving officers were being taken and later on even the ex-servicemen would be duly consulted as such.

The veterans in an answer to this proposed code of conduct wrote an open letter stating that such a code of conduct was at best “silly” and is an infringement upon their democratic rights of free speech and expression enshrined under Article 19(1) of the Constitution of India.

Major General S.S. Chauhan (retd.) has commented that the Army needs to realize that the Constitution of India is the real code of conduct, and he further questioned whether the Army would ask to surrender the rank if they refused to sign the undertaking?

Whereas, the proponents of the code of conduct supported their argument by enunciating that after an officer retires, he is deemed to keep his last rank and thereby is expected that he follows the rules so proposed by any new order that is introduced. Be that as it may, the majority of the ex-servicemen feel that such a code would be “draconian”, “despotic” and against the “principles of democracy”.

Salient features of the proposed conduct:

Even though the Army has clarified that if such a code of conduct does get formulated then it would only be having an advisory stature and nothing more. Further, the army sources also clarified that such a code would not be binding and neither will it have punitive measures. The Army men once retired does not come under the purview of the Army Act.

These clarifications on the proposed code were done after the army received heavy criticisms regarding the same. One senior army official clarified the following regarding the proposed code of conduct: –

  • Code of conduct will be advisory in nature.
  • No punitive measures.
  • Nature: not binding.
  • Code will propose ways on how to carry the ranks in a better way by the retired officers.
  • Code will also deal with the issue of seniority among the veterans. The issue is whether the officer who retired at a higher rank is senior or the one who is senior in age or number of years in service.

Significance of code of conduct:

As we have seen on numerous occasions how the veterans have taken to social media to express their views regarding the recent policy decisions. Albeit, the Constitution of our country grants every citizen the right to speech and expression under Article 19(1) but at the same time the Constitution of our country also limits that freedom under Article 19(2) wherein certain criteria are given meeting which the freedom to speak uninhibitedly gets restricted.

The criteria given are as follows- ” Nothing in sub-clause (a) of clause ( 1 ) shall affect the operation of any existing law, or prevent the State from making any law, in so far as such law imposes reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub-clause in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offense”

Thus, the question that one needs to ask is whether such a show of blatant opposition by the retired army officers to the current policies comes under any one of such restrictions or not. Even if such a show of blatant opposition does not come under any of the “reasonable restrictions” under Article 19(2) then the question of whether the Army could hold the veterans responsible after their signing of such undertaking should be analyzed.

Is it binding in nature?

After hue and cry over the proposed code of conduct; the army sources confirmed that any such code of conduct as and when it forms would not be legally binding on the veterans and would only be advisory. The code of conduct would be treated merely as guidelines. The Army has also stated that neither would the code be compulsive nor would it be binding.

On one hand, every person enlisting themselves in the Army know that their freedom of speech would be curtailed as per our Constitution while they are serving; so should it stay curtailed even after retirement? As they do retire with their last rank and their words hold as much respect and importance in the society as anyone else’s rather even more.

On the contrary, the veterans argue that the Army Act ought not be applied to them after retirement. Thus, the veterans too are given the freedom of speech and expression like any other citizen of the country. Looking at both sides, the current path chosen by the Army: The code of conduct only being the guidelines and not to be followed as a compulsion seems like the best way forward.

–This article is brought to you in collaboration with Ayushi Srivastava from Bharati Vidyapeeth, Pune.

Explained: Chief of Defence Staff

Reading time: 5-6 minutes.

Ever since surgical strike and the Balakot air strike, Indians have developed a very keen interest in the operations being carried out by our forces and other reforms and developments. Kudos to the defence forces for their courageous operations which have played a vital role in bringing a wave of unity, nationalism and a belief that India will no longer tolerate terrorism and those supporting it.

In his Independence Day speech from Red Fort, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the creation of the post of CDS: Chief of Defence Staff. “Our forces are India’s pride. To further sharpen coordination between the forces, I want to announce a major decision from the Red Fort: India will have a Chief of Defence Staff: CDS. This is going to make the forces even more effective”, Mr. Modi said.

Even the former defence minister Manohar Parrikar said that he considers the creation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) as “a must”. He also said that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) was engaged in working out a mechanism for the post. In effect, CDS is to be the head of all three services, namely, the army, navy and air force. The mottos for creation of this post are many but the main is to bring coordination and integration among all three services.

What purposes will the CDS serve?

CDS will be the head of all three services and will be advisor to the government on various defence related issues like weaponry, training, pension schemes, logistics of all the three services. As per the current scenario, we are aware that we have two hostile nuclear-powered neighbours who pose a great security threat. Long term planning, coordination and integration among the defence forces is necessary and it will be brought about by the CDS.

It will help in joint planning and maximum utilization of resources by joint training. Also, honourable defence minister Rajnath Singh’s big statement on India’s nuclear policy: “Have adhered to no-first-use, future depends on circumstances” makes it very clear that the CDS will be the advisor to the Prime Minister on nuclear issues.

What is the background for creation of this post?

The proposal of CDS is two decades old. It was first made after the Kargil war by the K. Subramanyam Committee which was appointed in 1999 to recommend military reforms. However, due to lack of political will and consensus among the political parties and the three services, the proposal never saw light of the day.

Also, the GOM – the group of Ministers in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee led NDA government who were tasked with studying the Kargil report also recommended the creation of the post of CDS. The Kargil report committee and the Group of ministers emphasised on the urgent need of military reforms and a five-star CDS who will bring about integrity, integration and synergy between the three services.

The Naresh Chandra committee in 2012 also recommended the appointment of a Permanent Chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) as a midway to allay apprehensions over the CDS. Lt General D.B. Shekatkar (retd) Committee which submitted its report in December 2016 had 34 recommendations pertaining to the tri-services which also recommended the creation of CDS post.

Why was the proposal not implemented so far?

All these years, the proposal was not implemented for the reason that there was no political will and even there were no backers for this even in the defence bureaucracy. The three services never together came forward in support of this proposal. Government was worried that making CDS powerful will make him autocratic and arbitrary. Air force and navy opposed it as they were sure that it will result in its own loss of supremacy and that CDS would be dominated by army.

What is the current scenario?

Currently, the senior most of the three Chiefs functions as the Chairman of COSC. But it is an additional role and the tenures have been very short and limited. For instance, Air Chief Marshal (ACM) B.S. Dhanoa took over as the Chairman of COSC on May 31st from outgoing Navy Chief Adm Sunil Lanba.

However, ACM Dhanoa will be in the role for only a few months as he is set to retire on September 30th after which the baton will pass on to Army Chief General Bipin Rawat who will then be the senior most. General Rawat too is set to retire on December 31st after three years in office. So, as of now, there is no stability as the tenure is for short durations.

Has India reached a high time for the creation of CDS?

India is facing regional clashes; also, there are threats from some militants in Kashmir who have a tendency to get influenced by terrorist groups and an enemy country. Therefore, it has become imperative for national security and integrity reasons that a CDS be appointed. CDS will look after the strengths, weaknesses and integration of all the three services in order to deal with the looming security threats as well as complex challenges emerging from a hostile nuclear environment.

How are defence experts reacting to this development?

Former Air Marshal P.K. Barbora says that move will be beneficial only if the CDS is made a part of the cabinet as well. “Now, to understand what is in the politicians’ minds or the higher echelons of security and strategy, the Chief of Defence Staff should be sitting in the Cabinet under all circumstances, because then he will have a better idea of the government’s thinking. Secondly, he will have a better idea with how the government deals with external and international issues and thirdly he would also be privy to how the govt is dealing with many issues like finances and internal security also” – he said.

V.P. Malik, who was the army chief during the Kargil war calls this a “major step” towards military reform. “Now that we are going to have a CDS, his direct responsibility will be, of course, all the nuclear outfits and all the nuclear organisations and outfits that we have, including the strategic command. The other responsibility would be of ensuring coordination and jointness so that all the three services work together and the inter-operability improves amongst the three services. Plus, if there are any differences among the services, he will be able to sort it out and he will also have the direct access to the Prime Minister and will be kind of a consultant of defence issues” – he said.

In conclusion…

CDS will be a revolutionary and one of the great military reforms if the government and the defence bureaucracy together clear the hurdles which still exist in the implementation of this system. Also, the powers of CDS needs to be well defined so that it does not end up being just another ineffective name-sake military office. CDS will definitely prove to be a modern and most effective way to prepare defence forces to meet today’s challenges.

-This article is brought to you in collaboration with Deeksha Kathayat from Dr. D.Y. Patil Law College, Nerul.